Oh Wonder

International One to Watch, Gris de Lin

Bridport multi-instrumenatlist, Gris de Lin, is not yet a name tripping off universal tongues, but it is a moniker that has set tongues wagging within the “those in the know” industry inner sanctum.  2015 has seen Gris instil her enchanting other-worldliness into the worlds of BBCIntroducing, BBC6 Music, Fresh on the Net and BBC South to name but a few.  Collaborations with renowned producer, Matt “Clyma” Gooderson as well as live sets with the likes of Ed Harcourt and Joe Gideon, have seen her name kiss the lips of murmuring musical media.

A debut album scheduled for release early 2016 should see her star soar and explode like a comet, bringing it’s ghostly glow to the inky black sky.

International Breakthrough, Oh Wonder

London based duo, Oh Wonder, have subtly hit a raw musical nerve with their well crafted, pared back take on indie electro-pop.  They very cleverly allow their songs to breath, let the music find its own space, something that is a rare find in today’s world of pop.  With sharp, tightly synced vocals and clear, fluid  melody lines, it’s no wonder Oh Wonder with their sublime debut eponymous album, have softly tiptoed  into the heart of the 2015 scene.  Like a small pebble being thrown into a pond, they barely made splash, but quietly caused a lot of ripples.

International Best Solo Artist, Hozier

There’s very little that can be said about Andrew Hozier-Byrne that hasn’t already been said!  As well as being a gifted lyricist, with a voice that once heard will never be forgotten, Hozier is also an hugely outspoken advocate for human rights, as can be attested to by his stunning video for lead track ‘Take me to Church’.  Hozier owned 2015, playing several high profile award ceremonies, including the MTV awards, as well as being on the receiving end of Grammy noms and Billboard awards.  He ends the year on a high with the recent announcement that he has been nominated for this year’s BBC Music Awards, in the International Artist of the Year category, alongside such luminaries as Prince, Taylor Swift and Foo Fighters.

I for one am in high anticipation of new releases in 2016.  Take it away Hozier….

International Best Group, U2

What can I say?  Arguably one of the best bands in the world and, in my opinion, most definitely the best live band around town, U2 brought it all back home in 2014 with the release of their latest album, ‘Age of Innocence’.  With a much welcome return to form, U2 proved once again why they are centre of the global musical stage, and with a year full of sold out arena shows behind them, they can look back at 2015 with merited ‘Pride’.

International Video of the Year, Naytronix, ‘Back in Time’

Well this one snuck up on me just as the doors were closing.  More dude than Beck, American Nate Brenner of tUnE-yArDs fame, went solo on this one, going under the moniker, Naytronix and releasing an album, ‘Mister Divine’ via the too cool for school City Slang label in October.  ‘Back in Time’, the lead track from the album, was spun out into the world a few weeks back, but the Jeffrey A Tang/Andrew Truong directed video only landed on our doorsteps  two weeks ago.  This heart warming California dreamin’ visual, perfectly captures the sentiment of this endearing and enticing sonic retrospective.  Take yourself ‘Back in Time’ …

International Remix/Cover/Edit of the Year, Clyma, ‘Your Ghost’ Gris de Lin

Super-producer, remixer, songwriter, musician and DJ extraordinaire, Clyma, has taken Gris de Lin’s ‘Your Ghost’ , turned it on its head, pumped it with rocket fuel and whipped it like an hypnotic spinning top, into a trance filled dancing phantasm.  Clyma has completely but very carefully, transformed this gorgeously haunting melody without once interfering with Gris’ breathtakingly emotive vocal.  The result is simply stunning, as is this re-edited version of the original video, by Richie Vernon.

International EP of the Year, Mac DeMarco, ‘Another One’

Unless you’ve been on a year long retreat in somewhere remote like the dark side of the Discworld, where any form of communication or transmission outside of the clacks system does not exist, you can hardly have failed to have heard the music of, if not the name, Mac DeMarco.  This Canadian multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter’s flag has been blowin’ in the wind since 2012, but pretty much went full mast in 2014 following the release of the album, ‘Salad Days’.  July this year saw the release of 9-track instrumental album,  ‘Some Other Ones’ but the jewel in the 2015 DeMarco crown was the (mini-album) EP ‘Another One’ – a small collection of musical short love stories which the man himself described as, “kind of like every angle of how somebody might feel if they’re having strange feelings in their chest.”  Prepare to FEEL.

International Album of the Year   

Choosing the number one, from my top three International album picks was one tough call, but at the end of the day, my musical radar picked the album with the strongest pulse and the loudest heartbeat.  The one that excited the most, resonated the most, “frissoned” the most.

This album screamed out, “Hello, we’re back, did you miss us?” to which the answer was “yes, Blur, we did!”

An ardent, of the day ‘Britpop’ girl, and one who was very much in the Blur (v Oasis) camp from the get-go,  ‘The Magic Whip’ sent my adrenalin soaring, and not just mine either judging by the impressive sales figures!  ‘The Magic Whip’ is an album of many moods and textures, sometimes darkly exotic, other times sparse and terse, but with inspired tracks like the ravishing ‘Mirrorball’ sparkling out from the romantic shadows, it hails a staggering and triumphant return by Blur, to the magic of their glory days best.

Sufjan Stevens ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Joanna Newsom ‘Divers’

Blur ‘The Magic Whip’

International Song of the Year 

I struggled and struggled with this one, even moreso than with picking the best album.  Albums are like Christmas Trees – they have something for everyone.  Songs are individual gifts. They are singular, personal.

For me the songs I like and love tend to be pretty endemic to certain genres!  Therefore I have to wage internal wars between head and heart to see who will win the battle – logic over emotion, critical acclaim over personal taste, or even better again, a blend of all four.

To be honest, I looked at the charts, and looked away in despair.  Too much for these taste buds much of what is “top tenning” these days.  Too much churn from the factory production line – too much samey, samey blandness.

I’ve whittled the list down to three songs that I feel I can stand over and say, in a cool, calm voice, that IMHO these were the best three songs of 2015.   Imaginative, different, splendidly written, instrumentally strong, well sung, each with their own winning style – they are three prime examples of what it takes to make a truly good song.  It’s that simple …

At the end of the internal battle, I finally gave nod to U2 because of this one simple live performance.  Enjoy.

Florence & The Machine, ‘Ship to Wreck’

Blossoms ‘Charlemagne’

U2 ‘Song for Someone’

Next week we’ll be running through the Best of 2015 – Nordic.  Until then x

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